Published on December 25th, 2016 | by James Ayre0
Smog “Red Alert” In China Closes Schools & Businesses, & Ground Flights
December 25th, 2016 by James Ayre
In an example of just how bad air pollution has gotten in parts of China, and why authorities there are incentivizing electric vehicles so aggressively (both personal vehicles and public transit vehicles), a smog “Red Alert” was recently issued in 24 major cities across the northeastern part of the country.
Altogether, these dangerously high levels of smog affected around half a billion people — directly, and also through the closure of many schools and businesses (whether industrial or other). A large number of flights out of Beijing’s primary commercial airport were even cancelled.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 15, 2016
During such events, most people are expected to stay indoors, greatly cutting down on worker productivity, amongst other things.
The event was apparently the worst smog occurrence of the year in China, and a sign of the significant public health problems facing the country.
Regardless of events such as these, though, a large portion of the people living in China are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution regularly, every day. Going by the figures provided by Greenpeace East Asia, there are about 200 million people in China who are exposed to smog levels at least 10 times higher than what is currently considered to be “safe” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Verge provides more: “Operations at more than 700 companies in Beijing ground to a halt on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports, and more than 200 flights out of the capital’s international airport have been cancelled. … China has long battled dangerous air pollution during the winter, when consumption of power from coal-powered plants increases. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, and although some cities have sought to promote natural gas and electric cars in the face of mounting public criticism, environmental groups say more needs to be done.”
It’s easy to say that that’s true, but the government is also in the position of needing to balance economic and industrial factors with the apparent public health issues accompanying the rapid industrialization of the last few decades. That said, without a relatively healthy workforce, nothing gets done, and people die too young to accumulate high levels of skill in trade professions. Clearly, the country needs to make some changes or the public health crisis there will only worsen.